First Corinthians, written by the Apostle Paul, is a favorite book to many Christians. It contains much deep theology and contains some beautiful lines written by Paul.
However, Paul also writes this: “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor. 1:25).
Excuse me? The omniscient God is foolish? The omnipotent God is weak?
The dictionary defines foolish as “Lacking good sense or judgment; unwise.” I challenge you to find any other verse in Scripture where God is described as lacking good sense or acting unwise.
God is always described as being wise and executing His will with perfect judgment. Here are just two Scripture examples:
Psalm 145:7 “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.”
Job 37:16 “Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge?”
God Isn’t Foolish
The idea that God would act in a “foolish” way is not biblical. God was never left in the dark or lacked the wisdom to know what to do next.
To proclaim God’s “foolish wisdom” is to exchange his omniscience for a more accessible version of God. Many wrongly attempt to portray God in terms that we more easily understand instead of how God actually reveals Himself to us.
If using the term “foolish” challenges or even confuses Christians, why not substitute the word for a better one? Why not use words like “careful,” “informed,” or “rational” to describe God’s wisdom instead?
The Point of This Post
You may be wondering, “What in the world is this guy talking about? Is he denying the inerrancy of Scripture by saying that Paul got it wrong?”
No, I am not. A popular song by Cory Asbury called “Reckless Love” has caused some controversy among Christians for using the word “reckless” to describe God’s love. This post is a tongue-in-cheek response to this article from The Federalist that critiques the song for this very reason.
I am not here to necessarily defend or critique the theology of the song or the singer’s explanation of it. Here’s my point: sometimes the biblical authors use words, ideas or poetic language that seems counterintuitive to God’s nature in order to communicate a truth about God.
And as long as we are careful, I think we are allowed to do the same thing.
One example of this is how the Bible applies human language to God, also known as an anthropomorphism. We know that this language isn’t to be taken literally. For example, does the Father really have eyes (Psalm 34:15) or ears (2 Samuel 22:7)? Did God really change His mind (Exodus 32:14)? Or does God have wings (Psalm 57:1)?
There are plenty of other examples in Scripture where poetic language is applied to God that is not meant to be taken literally either. For example, we are called to “Taste and see that the Lord is good” even though God is not some kind of food (Psalm 34:8).
Concepts like these are in Scripture because they help convey magnificent truths in terms that we can understand.
You see, Paul didn’t think that God was foolish according to it’s standard definition. Paul was using the word “foolish” to make a point. What seems to be foolish to us is actually God’s wisdom confounding our own.
In closing, I think God’s love can be described as “reckless” in the sense that it is so extravagant and unrestrained that it appears reckless to human beings. Sam Storms summed it up so beautifully in his blog post about the song:
“God’s love typically comes to us without regard for how it makes God look in the eyes of sinful humanity. It colors outside the lines. It strikes us as foolish and ineffective. Yet such is the love of God for sinners like you and me: reckless, defiant, extraordinary, and determined to bring a blessing to its objects when all they deserve is condemnation.”
Thank God for this kind of love!